Oh, and nursing. Did I mention nursing?
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
2) What an incredibly big cheeser he's become.
3) How much he enjoys playing with his big brothers.
4) The way he is so tickled to have a baby in the house.
5) What an attentive big brother he's turning out to be.
6) His love of protein.
7) The zeal with which he wrestles.
8) The way he joins in when we're singing, about a measure behind, but unmistakably there.
9) The way he's so cheerful in the morning when coming in to wake us up (at 6 AM) with a bright "Hi!!!"
10) How absolutely kissable he is!
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
February 6, 2010
Early in the morning of Saturday, February 6th, I woke to strong, somewhat painful contractions. Lying in bed, I quietly timed them for an hour. They were 7 to 10 minutes apart. I decided to get up and walk, but after another hour, I went back to bed. The contractions were still coming, but they were gaining neither strength nor frequency. I knew that rest would benefit me more than pacing and wondering.
When morning officially arrived, I wasn't having any regular contractions to speak of, but by mid-morning they had picked up again. After noting them for a few hours, I decided to call my midwife, Sonya. We had a home visit scheduled for that afternoon, but I wanted to give her a heads up that I thought I could possibly be in early labor. I was very cautious about even speaking that, because I didn't want it to be simply wishful thinking, and I was so hoping that this might be It. At 9 days past my estimated due date, I was very eager and ready to meet my little one.
Sonya arrived at 3:00 PM. After we finished my prenatal check-up, we talked about what the next step ought to be. Did I want Sonya to stay? Should she leave and I'd call her when I needed her to come back? Considering that it was a 40-minute drive and my contractions were twice the strength they'd been in the morning, I went with my instincts and said I'd prefer her to stay. I was still a little nervous about that, not fully believing that I was truly far enough along in labor. But she was happy to stay, and told me later that she was leaning that direction, too. Jeff called his parents, who live across the city, and were planning to come for the birth and watch our three boys.
Considering that I'd been awake for several hours during the night, Sonya suggested that I go lie down and try to rest. I am a terrible napper, but I agreed that resting my body would be a good thing, even if I didn't drift off to sleep. Once I got upstairs and into bed, things seemed to grow more intense relatively quickly. I was moving into active labor. Sonya came and sat with me, checking baby's heart rate with the Doppler every 20 minutes or so. We chatted easily between contractions, and during them I breathed deeply and tried to relax my entire body. I also began to moan, using low sounds to keep things loose and open.
Jeff's parents arrived to watch the boys, and just in time. I craved my husband's presence.
Eventually I asked Sonya to check my cervix, around 5:30 or 5:45 PM. She did, and said that she could feel the baby's head low, my bag of waters bulging, and a very soft cervix which was dilated to 5 or 6 cm. I felt so relieved by this news! This definitely wasn't just wishful thinking.
This was really happening.
At this point, my husband Jeff began to fill the bathtub. We were planning what would be our third homebirth, and fourth waterbirth. We had only been living in our new home for a month, but I'd been cherishing the sight of the master bathtub for weeks: the place where my little one would come into the world. My only concern was that always before Jeff had been in the tub with me, whereas this tub, while larger than average, probably wouldn't accommodate both of us. We decided I would try it anyway, though.
When the tub was ready, I got out of my bed. I could tell that the contractions were becoming much more intense now, and more frequent. The handful of contractions between getting out of bed and getting into the tub were agonizing. I was in that vulnerable place in labor where I didn't want to be left alone. If I sat on the toilet, I wanted my husband there. If I was going to be in the tub, I wanted my husband there. His presence lent me strength. I gave my face a quick scrub, braving a few more contractions. Jeff rubbed my back, and I leaned on him.
At last I sank into the warm water, around 6:30 PM. The air was scented with lavender, thanks to the candles I'd placed there soon after we'd moved in. I leaned back onto a bath pillow, a towel behind my head. When a contraction arrived, I focused on letting my arms float in the water, and on “floating” through the contraction. I also continued the low vocal tones, favoring “Ahhhhh” and “Ohhhhh” as my sounds of choice. I did miss being able to lean on my husband's body, but I was finding my own way in the tub this time.
Things got more intense. I could feel the power in the contractions, and it began to feel scary to me. But I reminded myself that this is how I always feel around the time of transition, and so, I kept on.
The boys were in and out of the bathroom. I've heard so many times that kids usually do fine attending a birth, so long as it's their choice to be there. Jeff and I were open to the boys being present, but my last two births had ended in the very early morning hours, and I was loathe to wake them up, considering that there was no way of knowing how long I'd be pushing. I had a feeling that this time the pushing stage would be fairly short, though. And we knew that they really wanted a chance to be there when the baby arrived.
Just as I began to feel pushy, my bag of waters broke. I waited through a few more contractions, because I wanted to be absolutely sure of the urge to push. Still, my body began pushing on its own, and the next time, I pushed too.
Now, I hate pushing. I mean, I really hate it. It is scary and painful for me. But I knew I wanted to meet this person who had been growing inside of me for 9 months. So what was there to do, but push? I had planned to move to my knees, leaning against the side of the tub – my preferred position during the last two births. But this time I decided to try it in my reclined position, instead. I knew that the water helps against the weight of gravity, and besides, I was comfortable. Or, as comfortable as I can be while in the middle of pushing!
I could feel the baby getting closer, so I gasped for the boys, who had gone into the other room. I'm glad they were able to be there, although I was a little self-conscious with them as an audience. Still, I knew they were well-prepared for the sounds and sights of labor and childbirth. I knew they wouldn't be afraid, no matter how much noise I made.
After about four or five pushes (and a lot of noise, including the often-repeated phrase “I hate pushing!”), I at last had my reward.
Elise Corrine was born at home, in the water, at 7:41 PM. She was pink and beautiful from the start, and although she didn't cry much, she did enough to reassure everyone that she was healthy. As Jeff and I sang her a lullaby, she was clear-eyed and alert as she surveyed her new world. We spent a long time in the tub, she and I. She nursed, while I stared at her in wonderment.
My baby. Here in my arms. It's always such miracle, the journey from womb to arms. My baby. A girl! Her skin feels like rose petals. She is so precious. A gift from God.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
- Psalm 139:14
Twenty-two pounds gained.
One month of torrential, weepy days.
Uncountable trips to the bathroom.
Two months of aching joints.
Nine days of waiting after the due date passed.
Three hours of missed sleep and high hopes during a pre-labor false alarm.
Seven hours of early labor.
Three hours of active labor.
Ten minutes of pushing.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
I'm being watched my family, friends, fellow churchgoers, neighbors, my midwife, my children, and my husband. Everyone is wondering just when this little baby will decide to be born.
Not the least of which is me. That is to say, I'm wondering more than anyone.
As I've said before, my babies are no respecters of due dates. They come in their own time, when they're good and ready. They don't seem to care that their arrivals have been pondered over, commented on, and even joked about.
They have no inkling that during those last few weeks, while they are contently warm, protected, and oh-so-comfortable in utero, the uncertainty of the yet to be determined birthdates drives people a little crazy.
Admittedly, uncertainty makes scheduling a challenge. Family visits, work schedules, meal delivery, baby showers. Headaches galore, no doubt about that.
And then there's the issue of not knowing the baby's gender.
All told, I suppose that the way we do this baby thing is a little bit inconvenient.
(Although really, birthing at home in my bathtub seems pretty convenient to me!)
Yet isn't this the way it's been done for ages? With the exception of the bathtub, that is. But really, mothers-to-be throughout the centuries have waited and wondered when their little ones would be born. They watched the moon, they listened to the stories other women told. They listened to their bodies, wondering, waiting for a sign that their baby was on the way.
Scheduling? That's newfangled stuff.
And so, I suppose that I'm a little old-fashioned. Though I don't always enjoy the uncertainty, I like that my babes choose their own birthdays. And I like the gender surprise. In spite of all the seeming inconvenience, this is the way we've chosen to go.
So, I'll continue to watch, and to be watched. As time goes on, Birth Day will draw nigh. Comfy or not, this baby will be born.
Because one of these days, I'm gonna boil.